Press Releases

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Damar Effect: Highmark, Bills surprise Buffalo CPR hero with Super Bowl LVII tickets

Buffalo, N.Y. (February 1, 2024) — Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, with the Buffalo Bills, and Damar Hamlin surprised Buffalo Public School teacher James Damon with two tickets to Super Bowl LVII in Las Vegas, in recognition of the life-saving measures he took to save a fellow Western New Yorker.

In early December, Damon intervened when he noticed a vehicle driving erratically during his afternoon commute. He immediately dialed 911 and drove slowly alongside the vehicle before jumping in to help when the car ultimately crashed into a median. Damon parked in front of the car, reached into the vehicle through an open window to put the car in neutral and tried to wake the driver. When Damon realized she was unresponsive, he pulled her out and started hands-only CPR.  

“James Damon embodies what the City of Good Neighbors is all about,” said Dr. Michael Edbauer, president, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. “This story of heroism is a shining example of why CPR training is so important, and we are proud to recognize these his life-saving efforts, along with our partners at the Buffalo Bills.”

Damon, a CPR-certified teacher and basketball coach at Emerson School of Hospitality in Buffalo, is credited with saving the woman’s life, as well as countless other lives by recognizing the woman was having an emergency medical incident and staying with her vehicle.

“While I am incredibly humbled by the fact that Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Buffalo Bills have honored me for my actions, my hope is that this story raises awareness about the importance of knowing life-saving CPR,” Damon said.  “My CPR training comes from my previous experience as a coach, and I encourage everyone to become CPR certified; you never know when you may be able to help someone's loved one.”

As longtime partners, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the Buffalo Bills, are strongly focused on spreading awareness and expanding CPR and AED availability, access, and training across the community. Through their efforts, thousands of community members across Western New York were CPR-trained in 2023 at free mass training events, including at Highmark Stadium and Johnnie B. Wiley Sports Pavilion.

The organizations also donated 15 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to community organizations and provided CPR training kits to all 37 Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries in 2023.

“I am so very proud and delighted that Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, in partnership with the Buffalo Bills, is recognizing the heroic efforts of Mr. James Damon with an all-expense-paid trip to Super Bowl LVIII,” said Buffalo School Superintendent Dr. Tonja M. Williams. “Mr. Damon, who teaches at Emerson School of Hospitality, PS 302, quickly and selflessly acted to save a fellow Western New Yorker's life and about the importance of knowing CPR. Everyone should learn CPR; you never know when you could save a life.”

About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York is a trade name of Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Since 1936, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield offers a full range of insured, self-insured, and government programs and services covering businesses, families, and individuals, as well as dental and vision plans and stop-loss coverage. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield employs more than 1,400 people and serves as a key economic driver in the region. As a community-based, not-for-profit health plan, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield contributes significantly to organizations that strengthen and enrich the health of the community.

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Amber M. Hartmann